Google Said More Predictions in Autocomplete

by Avinash Saxena

This posted is posted on google’s blog by  Bartlomiej Niechwiej, Software Engineer ”
I work on a team that develops autocomplete—the feature that provides predicted searches while you type. When you combine autocomplete with Google Instant, you can really accelerate your searching. Because it is so important to your search experience, we’ve been looking for ways to provide predictions for even more queries. Today we’re improving the predictive powers of autocomplete, helping you search for things even when no one else in the world has.

One of the main ways autocomplete works is by looking at the most popular searches on Google. For example, most people who type “w-e-a” are going to search for [weather], so Google can make that prediction. What’s tricky is that a huge percentage of the queries we get have almost never been typed before, so this makes it difficult to provide predictions based on popularity. For example, very few people have searched for [florida state senate building], so until today, even when you typed nearly the whole search query, you wouldn’t get a prediction.

Now what we’re doing is making predictions based on only part of your search—specifically, the last word or words. While few people have searched for [florida state senate building], many more have searched for [state senate building]. By looking at just the last part of what you’ve typed into the box, in this case “state senate bui,” we can generate a prediction for “building.” You’ll see a dropdown box below the end of your search with predictions for just that word.

As before, to search for the predicted query you simply click the prediction or arrow down and hit enter. The feature can be particularly helpful for long queries, since the query is likely to be more unusual. For example, if you’re trying to figure out [how many stairs to climb the arc de tri]… now you’ll actually get the prediction for “triomphe” (a good thing, too, because there’s no way I’d spell that right). Or, if you’re looking for an [online store with underwater gad], you can save that extra second while you’re shopping for “gadgets.”

We’ve been experimenting with this change for a couple weeks and it’s currently rolling out to all users on google.com in English. As we continue to improve the feature and test additional languages and locales, I can predict with high probability (pun intended) that we’ll be expanding globally.”

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